COLUMBUS -- Gov. Mike DeWine on Wednesday announced he was lifting all statewide COVID-19 health orders, effective June 2, including a mandatory mask mandate.
"It’s time to end the health orders. It’s been a year. You’ve followed the protocols. You’ve done what we’ve asked. You’ve bravely fought this virus," the governor said in a statewide broadcast.
"And now, our cases are down, and we have a tested and proven weapon in the vaccine that all Ohioans 12 and over can utilize," the governor said.
Many of the health orders have been in place since March 2020. A statewide mask mandate was issued July 23, 2020.
"Each person now has access to a mighty weapon they can use to get 100 percent protection, and it is up to each Ohio citizen whether to use it or not. There comes a time when individual responsibility simply must take over," the governor said.
DeWine said all pandemic health orders will be lifted, except those for nursing homes and assisted living facilities, on June 2.
"This will give anyone not vaccinated time to get the one-shot J&J vaccine or the first dose of Pfizer/Moderna and be well on the way to immunity," DeWine said.
"Now, lifting these orders does not mean the virus is gone. It does not mean we are all safe. Each Ohio citizen will make their own decisions about wearing a mask and social distancing -- and when, for them, that’s appropriate," he said.
"Ohio businesses and schools, as well, will make their own decisions about how to best keep their customers, employees, and students safe. Lifting these health orders will not prevent a business from imposing its own requirements," DeWine said.
Vaccine Incentives/Statewide Drawings
In an effort to increase the number of Ohioans who currently have not taken a COVID-19 vaccine to get vaccinated, Governor DeWine announced a series of statewide drawings to help incentivize vaccinations.
Ohioans under the age of 18 who are eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccine will be entered into a drawing for a four-year full scholarship to any of Ohio's state colleges and universities, including full tuition, room, and board.
Ohioans aged 18 and older will be entered into a weekly drawing with a prize of up to $1 million.
A total of five weekly drawings for each prize will take place, with the first winners being announced on May 26th. Winners must have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the date of the respective drawing.
The drawings will be administered by the Ohio Department of Health, with technical assistance from the Ohio Lottery Commission, and will be funded through existing allocations to the Ohio Department of Health of unexpended coronavirus relief funds.
Further details and contest rules will be announced by the Ohio Department of Health and the Ohio Lottery Commission next week during a briefing to news media.